Thursday, October 23, 2014

Guava Cake, A Sweet Diwali Treat.

   After a weeks recovery at home, I'm back on my feet again and once more able to lift heavy objects in a single bound. If there's one thing I found out in this last week, it's that guavas wait for no man...or woman. No matter what happens in the outside world, the guavas continue to ripen, and fall from the tree. No matter what went on with me and my stitches, the guavas continued to pile up and something had to be done. That something turned out to be cake, just in time for Diwali too.

Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights  is a time to celebrate the victory of light over darkness. Also like every celebration the world over, it's a time for delicious food! Each year I try to feature a Diwali recipe here on The Colors Of Indian Cooking, usually involving a traditional recipe such as these  sweet gluten free Laddu, but this year I had surgery...and you know...guavas. There are a lot of guava recipes in Indian cuisine so there was a lot to choose from. I happen to have a large tree full of pineapple guavas, which are technically not true guavas but they still share with true guavas, a healthy dose of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidents. What's not to like? After all, a guava by another other name still tastes as sweet and makes a great dessert.
   This guava cake is a simple sort of lighter pound cake. The recipe comes from Love and Confections and it involves guava paste as a filling, so even if you don't have a guava tree of your very own, guava paste can be purchased at most markets. Before I had my tree, I used to purchase it regularly at my local Whole Foods, so there's that.

Guava Cake

Here's What You Need:

1 stick Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
 2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream

4 or 5 strips of  guava paste, thinly sliced
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
pinch of Salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
3 or 4 Tbs heavy cream

Here's What To Do: 

Pre-heat  the oven to 350°F. 
Coat a bundt pan with butter or baking spray
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the softened stick of unsalted butter.

Add in the sugar.

Cream them together until they're light and fluffy.
Add in eggs, one at a time. Beat them slowly and scrape down the sides of the bowl so everything is blended smoothly. 

While the beaters on low, add the Flour, a half cup at a time.

Next, add in the Baking Powder. 

Keep scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Add in the vanilla extract.

With the beater still on low, slowly drizzle in the Heavy Cream.

Pour half the batter into the bundt pan.

 Lay the strips of  guava paste  on top of the batter.

 Top the guava strips with the remaining batter.

Smooth everything over.
Pop the bundt pan into the oven.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. 

Then turn it out and continue to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Now for the frosting!!!!

Either using a stand mixer or a hand mixer cream together the cream cheese, butter and salt. After every step, scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is mixed together.

Add in the vanilla extract and blend everything together.

Keep the mixer on low speed and add in the powdered sugar one 1/2 cup at a time.

Keep scraping down the sides of the bowl, then add in the whipping cream 1 Tbs at a time until it looks right for frosting.

Frost your bundt cake.


And who better to eat guava cake with than one's favorite nurse?

Not quite the same spelling.

Jane helped me navigate UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center. and introduced me to my wonderful doctor Dr. Laura Esserman. Cake was the least I could do.

Serve the cake up, slice it and see the delightful guava filling!

The perfect blend of tart and sweet, the guava filling adds the perfect something that makes this cake perfect for a Diwali, or any other holiday celebration! Coming up next more Indian treats follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Where I've Been: When Life Gives You Guavas, Get Pasted.

   It's been a weird few weeks/months around here; a move, a remodel, a tango with campylobacter,  an earthquake, and just when shit was finally starting to get back to normal a routine mammogram at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco led to the discovery of a very small breast cancer and suddenly this 24 year cancer survivor was back in the saddle again.

   After lots of tests and prep, I had surgery this last Tuesday morning. Wednesday afternoon I was back home in Sonoma and if anyone had told me the same operation 24 years apart could be soooooo different, I'd never have believed them. The doctors and nurses kept telling me how easily things go nowadays and I said "no way! I've been there and I know what this is!" Well, I have to admit it. I was wrong. Yes wrong. So, so, so, wrong. I'm glad I'm not a gambling person because if I'd actually bet any money on this, I'd be a huge loser this week. Never take me to Vegas with you 'cause I really don't have a knack for this stuff. I'm back at home now, out and about and I want to thank everyone for all the prayers and good wishes you sent my way. I'm definitely on the mend and looking forward to getting back into the kitchen again. I'll be keeping you posted on my progress.

   Since I knew I wasn't going to be allowed to lift anything heavier than 5 lbs for a week or so, I did some cooking before I went into the hospital. Let's put it this way, I HAD to do some cooking before I went into the hospital as my guava crop started coming in and I was trying to get a jump on the piles of fruit before I was overwhelmed. I was looking for something easy and quick to make, something that would get rid of a lot of fruit fast. One thing I always serve around this time of year to put on holiday cheese platters is guava paste. It's great with Manchego cheese and a variety of other stuff, and since I knew I'd be buying blocks of it anyway, I thought why not save some money and make my own? It was easier than I thought.

Guava Paste

Here's What You Need: 
1 and 1/4 lbs fresh guavas
1 cup of water
2 cups of sugar

Here's What To Do:
Rinse and dry the guavas.

Cut the tops and bottoms off the guavas, and peel them.

Cut the peeled guavas in half and scoop out the insides.

Place the scooped out guava insides in a small bowl, and the peeled guava shells in another.
When all the peeling and scooping is done, pour 1/2 cup of water into the bowl holding the scooped out guava insides.

Set them aside to soak.
Take the peel guava shells, chunk them up and put them into a saucepan.

Add in 1/2 cup of water.

Bring the water to a boil, then turn things down to a simmer. Put a lid on things, and cook everything until the guava shells are soft. This takes about 30 minutes. Stir them every now and then to prevent anything from sticking or burning.

When the guava shells are nice and soft and creamy they're done.

Take them off the fire.
Strain the bowl of water and guava insides into a larger bowl. The water will have turned gelatinous.

Press the stuff that doesn't go through the strainer, pushing the pulp through, and leaving the seeds behind.

Stir the strained guava insides into the sauce pan of cooked softened guava shells.

Put everything though a food processor or blender.

Grind it into a puree.

Measure the amount of puree you have when done, and add an equal amount of sugar.
I had 1 cup of puree so I mixed it with 1 cup of sugar and put it back into the saucepan.

Using a wooden spoon, cook the mixture down into a thick paste.

This takes about 20 minutes or so.
When the paste is thick, line a small square or loaf an with waxed paper and pour the paste into it.

Spread the paste out into the pan and smooth it.

Set the pan of guava paste aside in a cool place for about 24 hours.
Un-mold the guava paste , cut it into blocks, wrap it in waxed paper, and store in the fridge.
When you're ready to use it unwrap and serve it up.

   There you go, guava paste! Now, once your guava paste is done, what can be done with it besides part of a cheese plate?  As it turns out......quite a lot. Guava paste is popular the world over and there are a lot of recipes out there as I'm finding out. Coming up next, a classic Central American guava cake. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

When Nature Gives You Pineapple Guava, Make Sorbet. Without An Ice Cream Machine!

   In LA I was always a plant scavenger, a climber of fences, and scaler of walls. I loved going after the stuff people overlooked, the stuff people ignored, the stuff nobody wanted. The one thing that has always driven me crazy is driving /walking past trees and bushes with edibles on them that nobody is using. Virginia Woolf wanted a room of one's own. I always dreamed of a tree of ones own.
   Here in Sonoma I often see bushes and trees on people's property with neglected fruit. When I can, I glean off the side of the road. I know where the "free" trees and bushes are and I try to take advantage of them. In our old house here we were on top of a hill, overlooking a vineyard. It was impossible to grow anything except herbs, as any other attempts at agriculture was just setting out a free salad bar for assorted critters. So when we bought our new house in town, one of the chief goals was to be able to grow a lot of our own fruit and vegetables. Our house is on just under a quarter of an acre, pretty good space for a place right in town, within walking distance to The Plaza. It has a large garden and we have xeriscaped  both the front and back, removing the lawns and putting in 7 large raised beds and fruit trees in the rear of the house. In the front we have drought-tolerant plants and the house came with a number of large established trees, one of which is a large pineapple guava .
   If you've never had pineapple guava, it tastes a bit like pineapple crossed with kiwi, but yet not.  It's a slightly tart, acidic yet sweet taste. It's hard to describe so I'll just call it distinctively tropical. Pretty dang refreshing on a hot Sonoma afternoon.

    When we first moved in, one of the neighbors glanced at the big tree said, "oh yeah, you're gonna get a lotta fruit off that thing". He wasn't kidding. Back in LA we had a pineapple guava tree in a planter in the back yard in Santa Monica which occasionally gave me a few measly pieces of fruit. This thing we've got is more like a pineapple guava machine. There is no way I'm keeping up with it, but I'm trying.
   I've been actively seeking out stuff to do with all this fruit. Chutney is one possibility. Another is Pineapple Guava Cheese, a form of membrillo. I usually buy the stuff at Whole Foods, but now I'm determined to make my own. I've been collecting all sorts of guava recipes, but as a starter I thought I'd begin with something really simple, sorbet. So simple that one doesn't even need an ice cream machine to make it, just a Pyrex dish and a food processor.

Pineapple Guava Sorbet

Here's What You Need:
2 cups pineapple guava pulp.
2 Tbs sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Here's What to Do:
Cut the pineapple guavas in half and scoop out the meat.

You'll need 2 cups worth.
Put the guava meat into a food processor.

Add a Tablespoon of Lemon juice. This keeps the guava fruit from oxidizing too much.

Add in 2 Tbs of sugar and whiz it up.

Check the taste. If you feel you need to add more sugar or a tad more lemon juice do so.This all depends on the sweetness of your guava fruit. You control the flavor.
Pour the guava puree through a sieve and into a bowl to remove all the little seeds.

Pour the strained guava puree into a Pyrex dish.

Pop it into the freezer.

Stir it with a fork every 30 minutes or so, or you can just leave it. When you're ready to eat it, put the frozen guava puree into a food processor and whirl it up til it's creamy. I shoveled mine into hollowed out guava skins and served them that way.

   There it is, Pineapple Guava Sorbet! Fast and easy and no need for an ice cream machine. If you don't have any pineapple guavas, you can do this with almost any fresh fruit, and if you don't have any fresh fruit, try it with frozen fruit. Just drop the frozen fruit into a food processor swirl up and enjoy. I have barely made a dent in what's coming off this tree, so coming up I attempt to make my own Guava Cheese, also finally conquer the task of setting yogurt in clay pots. Follow along on Twitter at @kathygori


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